Summer’s over. And what a summer it’s been—at least in terms of tomatoes. Produce counters overflowed with rich-tasting Burpee’s Big Boys as well as plump romas. As a result, prices were so reasonable that sliced tomatoes were an everyday option on many Floridians’ supper tables. Just a simple splash of olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a dash of salt and pepper were all that was needed for this Southern favorite. But there is an option to fresh tomatoes, and that’s especially true in Italian cooking, even at the height of the summertime “bumper crop.”
That option, canned tomatoes, spans a range from watery and bland to rich and luscious. The best ones come from Italy’s Samo Valley, and they are distinctly (and legally) labeled San Marzano. Open a can, take a whiff and you’ll know why they’re favored, year-round, over fresh tomatoes in many cooked Italian recipes.
Sugo all’amatriciana is a staple of Italian cooking. A combination of tomatoes, basil, garlic and cured pork, it’s an easy dish to prepare and can be served over pasta or, in the case of this recipe, as a sauce for your favorite firm white fish. FS
- 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, whole and peeled
- 4 ounces cured pork (pancetta), finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1⁄2 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 4 tbsp. fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 six-ounce portions grouper (or other firm-fleshed fish)
- Peanut oil
- Zatarain’s “Wonderful” seafood breading mix
While you’re crisping the chopped pork in the olive oil in a saucepan, drain the tomatoes in a wire-mesh strainer while crushing them with a fork. When the bacon’s cooked, add the tomatoes, garlic, pepper and stir. Cook about 5 minutes over low heat, taking care not to dry out the sauce. If it gets too dry, a shot of good red wine will help thin it out. Finally, add the fresh basil to the sauce.
A few minutes before your meal, lightly coat the fish with the breading mix and sauté in a half-inch of hot peanut oil. The Zatarain’s Won- derful mix will allow you to quickly crisp the fish while retaining texture and flavor. Amatriciana sauce can be prepared in advance and re-heated as needed. Serves 4.
First Published Florida Sportsman October 2017